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Songs of Inspiration
     

Songs of Inspiration

by Alabama
 
Finally bringing to fruition an idea incubating since 1990, Alabama deliver a moving set of 15 inspirational numbers, which include not only beloved old standards such as "Amazing Grace" and "In the Garden" but also Red Foley's "Old Shep," the Sunday School staple "Jesus Loves Me," and the enduring Christmas carol "Silent Night." Unlike their usual mega-produced

Overview

Finally bringing to fruition an idea incubating since 1990, Alabama deliver a moving set of 15 inspirational numbers, which include not only beloved old standards such as "Amazing Grace" and "In the Garden" but also Red Foley's "Old Shep," the Sunday School staple "Jesus Loves Me," and the enduring Christmas carol "Silent Night." Unlike their usual mega-produced corporate country-rock, Alabama here opt for a spare, low-key approach. The album personnel includes a wealth of strings and woodwinds and a long roster of background singers, but these are employed in a subdued manner. Often framed by only a single instrument, Randy Owen's expressive baritone is even richer for being so naked in the mix -- he's never sounded more emotionally invested in the material than he does here. Backed mostly by a lone piano on "How Great Thou Art," Owen energizes this towering hymn of praise by stripping it of bombast and letting the lyrics breathe, underscoring the power of the commitment expressed therein. On "In the Garden," he's backed by a gently strummed acoustic guitar on the first verse, and the tenderness in his relatively unadorned voice is stirring; eventually brush drums, mandolin, organ, piano, and a small choir enter, but so discreetly their presence barely registers. The album closes with two Owen originals. The country-flavored gospel ballad "One Big Heaven" finds Owen's ragged vocal buttressed by sprinkles of piano and organ flourishes before it's joined by a full-bodied choir and strings, as he imagines an afterlife Utopia in which all creeds live in harmony; "Rain," the closing track, brings the full electrified band into play, with guitars snarling and drums thumping, as Owen petitions the Lord for restorative grace for his barren soul. Disarming and direct, Songs of Inspiration is Alabama at their best.

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Stephen Thomas Erlewine
By and large, 2006's Songs of Inspiration, Alabama's first foray into gospel music, is quiet and respectful, a record made with care and precision but certainly not without heart. The reverent tone may be reminiscent of Alan Jackson's spiritual album Precious Memories -- released eight months before Songs of Inspiration -- but where Jackson sought out unfamiliar traditional tunes, Alabama stick with the familiar, singing such standards as "His Eye Is on the Sparrow," "In the Garden," "Amazing Grace," "How Great Thou Art," "Jesus Loves Me," and "Rock of Ages," even finding ways to work "Silent Night" and Red Foley's "Old Shep" into the mix. Their arrangements are straightforward, slow, and spare, emphasizing their still-strong harmonies, and they serve the songs well, even if they do wind up sounding a bit samey. Naturally, this means that when they pick up the tempo, those songs tend to boldly stand out, which the rip-roaring duet with bluegrass legend Ralph Stanley on "I Am the Man Thomas" and Randy Owen's surging original "Rain" -- the song here that comes closest to the patented Alabama sound -- certainly do. These songs are so strong that it's hard not to wish that there were just a couple more like them, since that would give Songs of Inspiration a variety that would be welcome, but even without them this is a fine record, one that's expertly executed yet also clearly heartfelt.

Product Details

Release Date:
10/24/2006
Label:
Rca
UPC:
0886970053228
catalogNumber:
700532

Tracks

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Alabama   Primary Artist
Ralph Stanley   Vocals
Gary Prim   Organ,Synthesizer,Piano,Hammond Organ
Eddie Bayers   Percussion,Drums
Mark Casstevens   Acoustic Guitar,Banjo,Dobro,Harmonica
Jeff Cook   Vocals
David Davidson   Violin
Connie Ellisor   Violin
Kim Fleming   Vocals
Theodore Gentry   Vocals
Carl Gorodetzky   Concert Master
Anthony LaMarchina   Cello
Joey Miskulin   Accordion
Randy Owen   Acoustic Guitar,Electric Guitar,Vocals
Larry Paxton   Guitar,Electric Bass,Electric Guitar,Acoustic Bass,Guitar (Nylon String)
Pamela Sixfin   Violin
Alan Umstead   Violin
Gary VanOsdale   Viola
Mary Kathryn Van Osdale   Violin
Aubrey Haynie   Fiddle,Mandolin
Steve Sparkman   Banjo
James Alan Shelton   Guitar
Ben Isaacs   Vocals
Randy Kohrs   Acoustic Guitar,Dobro
Bruce Christensen   Viola
Belinda Wallace   Background Vocals
Melinda Doolittle   Vocals
Rebecca Isaacs Bowman   Vocals
Bailey Barnes   Background Vocals
Karstin Brewis   Background Vocals
Kensley Brewis   Background Vocals
Dewey Brown   Fiddle
Carson Burt   Background Vocals
Sawyer Burt   Background Vocals
Kirsten Cassl   Cello
Michael A. Curtis   Background Vocals
Ella Fowler   Background Vocals
Abby Fraebel   Background Vocals
Griffin Horton   Background Vocals
Kaden Horton   Background Vocals
Carolyn Huebel   Violin
Nathan Isaacs   Vocals
Alexis Lutz   Background Vocals
Emma Lutz   Background Vocals
Jesse Lutz   Background Vocals
Tyler Newton   Background Vocals
Nathan Stanley   Mandolin
Nathan Young   Vocals
Chris Farrell   Viola

Technical Credits

Ralph Stanley   Composer
Red Foley   Composer
Franz Gruber   Composer
Thomas Hastings   Composer
Mike Bradley   Engineer
Mark Capps   Engineer
John Newton   Composer
Randy Owen   Arranger,Composer,Producer,Audio Production
Larry Paxton   String Arrangements
Kristin Wilkinson   String Arrangements
Robert Lowry   Composer
Wade Hunt   Art Direction
Joseph Mohr   Composer
George Bernard   Composer
Greg Fowler   Cover Photo
Alan Maggard   Engineer
Dale Morris   Management
Ed Turner   Engineer
Traditional   Composer
Stuart K. Hine   Composer
C. Austin Miles   Composer
Charles H. Gabriel   Composer
Judy Forde Blair   Liner Notes,Creative Producer
Gena Gowler   Direction
Jason Lefan   overdub engineer

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